Meet Anna Boden, Marvel's First-Ever Female Director and the Woman Behind 'Captain Marvel'

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Getty ImagesAraya Diaz

When the Golden Globes nominees were announced, one thing stood out: The utter lack of women in the Best Director category. And while that’s not unusual for an industry that has historically overlooked women in the director’s chair (after all, a total of 440 men and five women have been nominated for the Best Director Oscar), this year represented a backslide. A new report from the Center for the Study of Women in Film and Television revealed that from 2017 to 2018, the amount of women directors working in the field went down to just eight percent. That number is alarming but it’s not surprising, especially when you take a look at the box office juggernauts of the last two years—notably superhero movies.

But Hollywood wants to change, and 2019 might be the year it does. The upcoming Captain Marvel, out March 8, is not only the first Marvel movie to star a woman in the lead role (Brie Larson is the titular heroine) but also the first to be directed by a woman, Anna Boden—a sign that the times are changing for the better.

Boden, along with her directing partner Ryan Fleck, is best known for her documentaries and the 2015 indie Mississippi Grind, meaning Captain Marvel is their biggest film to date by a big margin. But it was their approach to the story that first attracted Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) President Kevin Feige to the pair. “Anna and Ryan just had an amazing way of talking about Carol Danvers [Captain Marvel] and talking about her journey,” Feige said in an interview last year. “When you look at the work that Ryan and Anna have done in the past, they are all amazing and very diverse character studies and journeys, and that impressed us.”

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Boden, left, on set with Larson.
Marvel Studios

Marie Claire got a chance to sit down with Boden between takes during a Captain Marvel set visit in Los Angeles last year.

On how she initially pitched her vision for Captain Marvel

“We kind of tend to approach movies from the perspective of character and really thought that this is an amazing opportunity to introduce audiences to a new superhero. [We want to] take her on a very powerful journey of self-discovery throughout the movie. We really grounded ourselves in the journey of somebody who’s kind of discovering her own power and realizing that the more herself she becomes, the more powerful she becomes.”

On how it feels to be the trailblazing woman director at Marvel

“I feel incredibly honored to be given the opportunity to be here with this awesome group of people. It amazes me that I’m the first female director to be doing one of their films, but I’m just kind of trying to tackle it like I would any other job. One of the things that I love about this movie is what an amazing collaboration it is between super awesome women.

Brie Larson in Captain Marvel.
MCU

“There’s a lot of pressure and a lot of responsibility, I think, to make this film live up to all the potential it has. Starting from an awesome character in the comics to the amazing, powerful woman Brie Larson, who’s embodying her, plus all the incredible filmmakers that have worked with Marvel in the past.”

On the most surprising thing about working on a superhero movie

“I’m surprised by just how important it can be to tell these stories. Just seeing from the inside how seriously everybody on the filmmaking side of it takes the storytelling—from the executives to all the crew who you see here today, to the cast, everybody—how they really take that to heart, and they really care.”

On the character Captain Marvel’s feminism

“The story lends itself to a [feminist narrative]. We just found what we thought was strong and powerful about this character and stayed to that story. No, we’re not trying to make this movie about all women—we can’t make it about all women’s journeys—but we want to just be really true to this woman’s journey.”

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